Giroud header seals Arsenal win in season-opening thriller
By Rex Gowar
Reuters - ARSENAL 4 LEICESTER CITY 3
A feast of goals opened the Premier League season when Arsenal twice came from behind to beat Leicester City 4-3 with substitute Olivier Giroud heading a late winner on Friday.
Arsenal's new signing Frenchman Alexandre Lacazette took 94 seconds to make his mark with a header from Mohamed Elneny's curling cross to equal the record for the fastest opening goal in a Premier League season.
Shinji Okazaki scored a quick equaliser, Jamie Vardy put Leicester ahead and Danny Welbeck levelled for Arsenal before halftime. Vardy then restored Leicester's lead at 3-2 early in the second half before goals in the final seven minutes from substitutes Aaron Ramsay and Giroud gave Arsenal victory.
"Going forward and character wise we have been great," said a relieved Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who will be seeking a first league title since 2004 after being handed another two years in charge.
"We had some avoidable goals which we conceded and overall we have to work on that," he said referring to poor marking in the by his team's defence.
Arsenal's quickfire lead lasted barely three minutes before Marc Albrighton's cross from the left was headed back into the middle by Leicester's new signing Harry Maguire and Okazaki nodded the ball past flailing Arsenal keeper Petr Cech.
Vardy put the visitors 2-1 ahead just before the half hour, darting into the box to rifle another fine Albrighton cross past Cech after the winger had pounced on a poor square ball from Arsenal midfielder Mezut Ozil.
But Welbeck had the last word of the first half for the home side when he equalised from close range in added time after new signing Sead Kolasinac's tap forward in a goalmouth melee.
The impressive Vardy scored his second in the 53rd minute to put Leicester in front once more, curling Riyad Mahrez's corner into the bottom far corner amid poor Arsenal marking.
But the home side's pressure in the final half hour turned the game back their way and Ramsey equalised with a shot from close range with seven minutes remaining.
Giroud then sent the previously despondent Arsenal fans wild when he headed the 85th minute winner from a corner, Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel only managing to turn the ball onto the underside of the bar before it bounced over the line.
Leicester showed some of the form that won them the title in 2016 and helped stave off relegation last term but in the end they were undone by canny France international Giroud who has been linked with a move away from Arsenal all summer.
"Obviously I knew that I was going to have a chance so we tried to push. We kept the faith and kept believing in our game to push hard," said Giroud who has vowed to fight for his place.
(Reporting by Rex Gowar; editing by Ken Ferris)